Are you planning your next dream vacation and trying to decide between the lush, tropical paradise of Hawaii and the vibrant, culturally rich destination of Puerto Rico?
Both of these stunning locations offer beautiful landscapes, sandy beaches, and unforgettable experiences, making it a tough choice for any traveler.
I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years so I can help you make an informed decision.
In this article, I will help you decide whether to vacation in Puerto Rico or Hawaii.
– Is it better to go to Hawaii or Puerto Rico?
– Is Puerto Rico as beautiful as Hawaii?
– Is Puerto Rico less expensive than Hawaii?
– Is Puerto Rico warmer than Hawaii?
– Hawaii vs Puerto Rico safety – which is safer?
– Hawaii vs Puerto Rico beaches – which has better beaches?
– Which is better for families with kids?
– Which has more fun and unique activities?
– Other frequently asked questions
It ultimately depends on your preferences and priorities when deciding between Hawaii and Puerto Rico for your vacation.
Hawaii is famous for its lush landscapes, breathtaking beaches, and unique Polynesian culture.
It is an ideal destination for those who seek a tropical paradise with a touch of luxury, world-class surf spots, and opportunities to immerse themselves in the laid-back island lifestyle.
On the other hand, Puerto Rico offers a blend of Caribbean and Spanish influences, rich history, and vibrant culture.
Puerto Rico’s colorful architecture, lively music scene, and mouthwatering cuisine will captivate your senses.
Suppose you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option with diverse experiences that cater to adventure seekers, history buffs, and beach lovers alike.
In that case, Puerto Rico might be your better choice, offering an unforgettable vacation filled with discovery and enchantment.
Learn more about the island in our guide to the 45 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is just as beautiful as Hawaii in its unique way.
While both destinations boast stunning beaches and landscapes, Puerto Rico offers a distinctive mix of Caribbean and Spanish influences, evident in its colorful architecture, historic sites, and vibrant culture.
You’ll find picturesque cobblestone streets in Old San Juan, the majestic El Yunque Rainforest, and the enchanting Bioluminescent Bays, all of which contribute to the island’s captivating charm.
However, Hawaii has a more laid-back Polynesian vibe with its dramatic volcanic landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and world-class surf spots.
The islands offer diverse experiences, from exploring the rich history and traditions at the Polynesian Cultural Center to hiking through the lush valleys of Kauai or witnessing the awe-inspiring power of nature at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Ultimately, the beauty of each destination is in the eye of the beholder, and both Hawaii and Puerto Rico promise unforgettable experiences, stunning scenery, and a taste of paradise that will leave you longing for more.
If you want to explore nature, check out our 15 Best Outdoor Activities In Puerto Rico.
In general, Puerto Rico is less expensive than Hawaii.
Accommodation, dining, and activities are more budget-friendly in Puerto Rico, making it a more attractive option for travelers on a tighter budget.
You’ll find various lodging options, from affordable guesthouses and vacation rentals to mid-range hotels catering to different price points.
Dining in Puerto Rico also offers excellent value, with various delicious local dishes available at roadside kiosks, food trucks, and family-run restaurants, alongside more upscale dining experiences.
In terms of activities, Puerto Rico presents an array of affordable options, such as exploring historic forts, hiking through the El Yunque Rainforest, or simply lounging on one of its beautiful beaches.
However, keep in mind that prices can vary depending on the specific area and time of year you visit, so it’s always a good idea to research and plan your trip accordingly.
Like holidays and popular events, peak travel seasons may result in higher prices and limited availability.
By being flexible with your travel dates and booking in advance, you can make the most of your vacation budget, regardless of your chosen destination.
Get more details about planning your vacation budget in our article How Much Does It Cost To Go To Puerto Rico On Vacation?
Puerto Rico and Hawaii enjoy a warm tropical climate year-round, making them ideal destinations for sun-seekers and beach lovers.
However, Puerto Rico tends to be slightly warmer than Hawaii, with average temperatures ranging from 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C).
Hawaii’s temperatures usually range from 65°F to 82°F (18°C to 28°C).
While the temperature difference is insignificant, Puerto Rico might be the better option if you prefer a slightly warmer destination.
It’s also worth noting that both destinations have their own microclimates, which can result in varying weather conditions depending on where you are on the islands.
For instance, the northern coast may experience more rainfall in Puerto Rico, while the southern coast is typically drier.
Similarly, in Hawaii, the islands’ windward (eastern) side tends to be wetter, while the leeward (western) side is generally drier and sunnier.
When planning your trip, consider these climate variations and pack appropriate clothing and gear to ensure you’re prepared for any weather.
Regardless of your destination, Puerto Rico and Hawaii offer warm, tropical experiences that will undoubtedly make for an unforgettable vacation.
When considering safety in Hawaii versus Puerto Rico, it’s essential to understand that both destinations have unique challenges and precautions.
Generally speaking, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are considered safe for tourists, but some differences are worth considering to help you make an informed decision.
As a U.S. state, Hawaii tends to have a lower crime rate than Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.
Tourist areas in Hawaii, such as Waikiki, Maui, and the Big Island, are generally safe, with well-developed infrastructure and a strong police presence.
However, visitors should still exercise common sense and follow basic safety guidelines, such as avoiding isolated areas at night and securing valuables.
Below is a video of someone discussing how safe Hawaii is:
On the other hand, Puerto Rico experiences higher crime rates in certain areas, particularly in and around San Juan.
Nevertheless, the island’s tourist areas, including Old San Juan, Condado, and Isla Verde, are generally safe and well-policed.
Below is a video of someone talking about the safety of Puerto Rico:
As with Hawaii, exercising caution and following basic safety precautions, such as not displaying valuables and avoiding poorly lit areas at night, will help ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation.
Natural hazards are also a consideration in both destinations.
In Hawaii, visitors should know about volcanic activity, strong currents, and rip tides at specific beaches.
Puerto Rico, being in the Caribbean, is more susceptible to hurricanes, which usually occur between June and November.
In conclusion, while Hawaii is generally considered safer due to its lower crime rate, both destinations can be enjoyed safely if you take the necessary precautions and stay informed.
Check out our guide to Safety In Puerto Rico for more.
Comparing the beaches of Hawaii and Puerto Rico is not an easy task, as both destinations offer stunning shorelines, each with its own unique charm and appeal.
Your choice will depend on your personal preferences and the type of beach experience you’re seeking.
Hawaii is famous for its diverse and picturesque beaches, ranging from the iconic Waikiki Beach on Oahu to the dramatic black sand beaches of Punalu’u on the Big Island.
The islands are known for their pristine white, black, and even green sand beaches, as well as world-class surf spots like the North Shore of Oahu and the renowned Jaws in Maui.
Hawaii’s beaches are perfect for those seeking a luxurious, laid-back atmosphere and amazing snorkeling opportunities at spots like Hanauma Bay or Poipu Beach.
Puerto Rico, on the other hand, offers a mix of beaches that cater to a variety of interests.
The island is home to both bustling cities beaches, such as Condado and Isla Verde, and more secluded spots, like Flamenco Beach in Culebra, which is consistently ranked among the world’s most beautiful beaches for its turquoise waters and powdery white sand.
For surfers, Rincon and Isabela offer some of the best waves in the Caribbean.
The Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques is another unique attraction, where visitors can witness the magical glow of bioluminescent microorganisms in the water.
Ultimately, the choice between Hawaii and Puerto Rico comes down to personal preference.
Hawaii’s beaches are better suited for those seeking dramatic landscapes, a diverse range of sand colors, and world-class surfing, while Puerto Rico’s beaches cater to a broader range of interests, from bustling city beaches to secluded coves and world-class surf spots.
Both destinations promise stunning shorelines and unforgettable beach experiences, so you can’t go wrong with either choice.
Learn more in our guide to the 30 Best Beaches In Puerto Rico.
Both Puerto Rico and Hawaii offer a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions.
Hawaii is an excellent choice for families looking for outdoor adventures, such as hiking, snorkeling, and surfing.
Hawaii’s unique Polynesian culture, educational attractions, and luxurious resorts make it a top pick for families seeking a memorable vacation experience.
Puerto Rico is also a fantastic destination for families, offering diverse activities, including exploring historical sites, hiking through the rainforest, and discovering beautiful beaches.
The island’s cultural attractions and family-friendly festivals make it an attractive destination for kids and adults.
Ultimately, both destinations are well-suited for families with kids.
Your choice will depend on your family’s interests and preferences.
If you’re seeking an immersive cultural experience with a touch of adventure, Puerto Rico might be the better option.
However, if your family prefers a more laid-back, luxurious vacation in a stunning tropical paradise, Hawaii might be the ideal choice.
Read more in our article featuring the 17 Best Things To Do In Puerto Rico With Kids.
Hawaii and Puerto Rico offer an array of fun and unique activities for visitors to enjoy.
Hawaii is renowned for its outdoor adventures, such as hiking to volcanic craters like Kilauea and Haleakalā, snorkeling with exotic marine life at spots like Molokini Crater, and learning to surf on its world-famous waves at Waikiki or the North Shore.
The islands also provide opportunities to explore the rich Polynesian culture through luaus, hula dancing, and traditional Hawaiian cuisine, like poke bowls and Kalua pork.
Puerto Rico, on the other hand, boasts a diverse range of experiences that cater to various interests.
History buffs can explore the island’s rich past by visiting the historic forts of El Morro and San Cristóbal and the charming cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.
At the same time, nature lovers can venture into the lush El Yunque Rainforest, home to waterfalls and rare wildlife, or take a nighttime kayak trip through bioluminescent bays like Mosquito Bay in Vieques.
The island’s vibrant culture comes to life through its lively festivals, such as the San Sebastián Street Festival and the Ponce Carnival, as well as its delicious cuisine, featuring dishes like mofongo and arroz con gandules.
The lively music scene in Puerto Rico, characterized by salsa, reggaeton, and bomba, is another highlight for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the local atmosphere.
In summary, Hawaii and Puerto Rico offer various activities that cater to different interests, from outdoor adventures to cultural experiences.
The choice between the two will depend on the type of activities that resonate with you and the unique experiences you seek during your vacation.
Puerto Rico is generally easier to get to from the United States, thanks to its closer proximity and shorter flight times, especially from the East Coast.
The ease of getting around depends on your itinerary and preferences, but Puerto Rico's smaller size and reliable public transportation in San Juan make it a convenient option for many travelers.
In conclusion, choosing between Puerto Rico and Hawaii as vacation destinations depends on your preferences and priorities.
If you’re seeking a luxurious tropical paradise with breathtaking landscapes, unique Polynesian culture, and a laid-back vibe, Hawaii is a perfect choice.
However, you’re seeking a more budget-friendly option with diverse experiences, rich history, vibrant culture, and Caribbean and Spanish influences.
In that case, Puerto Rico is the ideal destination. Both locations have a unique charm; either choice will surely provide a memorable and enjoyable vacation experience.
Check out our Best Times To Visit Puerto Rico article to know when it’s the best time to vacation in Puerto Rico.
Writer at PuertoRico.com. I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 14 years and have experienced every inch of this stunning island. Growing up in Puerto Rico has helped me truly learn about the rich culture and extensive history this island has to offer. I share my local knowledge in all of the articles that I write.About the author